Jatavion Kirk will celebrate his fifth birthday July 13. The Bowling Green boy with his mother’s eyes will mark the milestone with family, including the second cousin who is raising him.
Noticeably absent will be his parents, who were slain when Jatavion was only 9 months old in a crime that remains unsolved.
Sometime late on April 21 or early April 22, 2005, Latasia Nicole Kirk, 20, and her boyfriend, Jamaal Dontay Covington, 26, were shot and killed in their Willow Creek Apartments home.
Jatavion was living with his grandmother, Betty Duncan, at the time. With both of Kirk’s parents deceased, it was Duncan who was making the plans for Latasia’s 21st birthday party on April 22.
“The night before, she had called my mother to remind her to pick up her birthday staple - a cake from Riley’s Bakery,” said Sharon Jones, Latasia Kirk’s aunt.
Early that morning, police responded to a call at the apartment complex, and soon, news spread that something was wrong in apartment P2.
“We got a call from a friend and went to the apartment,” Jones said, but family and friends had to wait for confirmation of the disturbing news from police processing the scene.
“It was awful. I kept thinking it wasn’t her,” Jones said. But it was her niece who lay dead in the apartment - she was identified in part by the butterfly tattoo that Jones told police Kirk had on her neck.
Her family went from planning a 21st birthday bash to planning a funeral.
Jones remembers Kirk as fun-loving and full of life.
“She was a big, silly kid, scared of thunderstorms and a junk-food junkie. She was someone who made you laugh,” Jones said. “She was more like a sister or the daughter I never had. If you knew her, there was no way you couldn’t like her.”
Almost immediately, Bowling Green Police Department investigators hit a wall in the probe, with no witnesses coming forward and an unknown motive.
“We’ve explored several possibilities as far as motive, but have never identified any one person as a suspect,” said Detective Barry Raley, who has worked the case since the beginning. “We’ve talked to a lot of people, but nothing has ever come together.”
And as time passes, there are fewer people to talk to.
“We look at a lot of different things regarding the victims because a lot of homicides (are) committed by a person who knew them - but people are becoming more transient,” Raley said. “As more time passes, memories fade and people relocate.”
Still, the case remains active: “If any information comes in, it’s followed up on right away,” Raley said.
Jones said the family is hopeful that there might some day be a resolution to the case, “Even though going through a trial would be tough, painful, I want to know what happened,” she said.
Jones gets periodic progress reports on the case from Raley.
“I have a hope that we’ll be able to solve it,” the detective said. “Somebody knows what happened, obviously. We just have to talk to the right person, get that one bit of information.”
Meanwhile, Jatavion, who has autism and is “the spitting image of his mother,” Jones said, is getting ready to enter kindergarten next year, oblivious to his mother’s fate - for now.
“I always call him Tasia’s boy because, someday, I know he’s going to ask about his mother,” Jones said.
— Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Bowling Green Police Department at 393-4000.